Robert Jeffress - What Every Christian Should Know About God
Hi, I'm Robert Jeffress, and welcome again to Pathway to Victory. The most important relationship we have in life is not with our family or friends, but with our God. Yet many Christians admit to feeling distant or unfamiliar with their Heavenly Father. Well, I believe the key to growing deeper in your relationship with God is getting better acquainted with his character, and today we're going to see what God has revealed to us about himself. My message is titled "What Every Christian Should Know About God," on today's edition of Pathway to Victory.
A first grade teacher was walking around, inspecting her student's work on a creative art assignment she had given them. She stopped by one desk, and Johnny was fervently working on his project, and so she was interested to see what it was. "What are you drawing," the teacher asked? Johnny answered, "Well, this is a picture of God". The teacher said, "Well, Johnny, nobody knows what God looks like". And without lifting up his head, Johnny said, "They will in a few minutes". A.W. Tozer once said, "What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us". One wag said, "In the beginning, God created man in his own image, and ever since that time, man has tried to return the compliment".
What are your ideas of God based on? Are they based on your speculations that in reality have no more authority than a first grader's drawings? Or are your beliefs about God grounded in reality? Today, as we continue our series, "What every Christian should know," we're going to look at what every Christian should know about God the Father. In theology, we call it theology proper, but it immediately raises a question, and you've probably had it before, how is it that we talk about God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit? Do we worship three Gods, as some people charge against Christianity? No, our historic belief has been that the triune God is one God in three persons, three co-equal, co-eternal persons, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
Now, let's admit that is a mystery. You know what's astounding to me is the first chapter of the Bible, Genesis 1, tells of how God the Father created this entire universe by his word. And then the rest of the Bible, 1,188 chapters, are a record of how God chose to reveal himself to his creation. Now, God didn't have to do that. He was under no obligation to have any relationship with his creation. But don't you find it astounding that the great God of the universe cares enough about you that he wants to have a relationship with you? How does God connect with us? How does God reveal himself to us? Well, today we're going to look at, first of all, the how, how God reveals himself to us.
Secondly, the what, what does God reveal to us about himself? And then the what now, what difference should that make to us? What is our response to God's revelation? Let's first of all talk about how God reveals himself to us. If you were trying to introduce yourself to somebody who didn't know you, how would you inform them about yourself? Would you send them a resume, that it listed all of your work experiences and honors? Maybe you'd fill out a dating profile that showed your likes and your dislikes? Maybe you'd send them photographs of yourself at significant points in your life, and people who have influenced you? Well, God has gone to great lengths to reveal important information about himself to us, and I want us to consider four ways God has revealed himself to us.
First of all, he reveals himself to us through nature. We call that, in theology, natural revelation. It's general information that is available to everyone about God, without ever reading a Bible or hearing a sermon. Nature reveals some important truths to us about God. And David spoke about that in the Psalm I had you read a few minutes ago, Psalm 8:3-4, "When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars which you have ordained, what is man that you thought of him, and the Son of Man that you care for him"? Jesus pointed to nature as a revelation of God. Remember in Luke 12:27, he said, "Consider the lilies, how they grow. They neither toil nor spin, but I tell you, not even Solomon in all of his glory clothed himself like one of these". Jesus was talking about why we shouldn't worry. He said, "God is involved in our lives, that's why you don't worry".
Look at what he does for the lilies. How does he array them? He uses photosynthesis and the process of evaporation to be sure they have exactly what they need. Or look at the birds of the air, how God cares for them. If God cares for nature like that, how much more is he going to care for you? The apostle Paul spoke about natural revelation. In Romans 1:20 he said, "For since the creation of the world, God's invisible attributes, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made so that they," that is the unsaved, "Are without excuse". You don't ever have to read a Bible or attend a church service to know that there's somebody in the universe greater than you. Just look at the creation. Everybody knows they didn't do that, God did that. That is natural revelation.
Every pagan in the world, the heathen in Africa, that's what we used to hear about growing up, the heathen in Africa. I never understood why all the heathen were gathered in Africa, but for some reason they thought they were. No, it's heathen anywhere, whether it's in Africa, or across the street from you where you live, everyone is without excuse, because God has made himself known through his creation. Now that information, that revelation of God, that he's powerful, is not enough to save you. Nobody can be saved by believing that there's a God. The Psalmist said, "The foolish person," literally in Hebrew, the moron, "Has said in his heart, 'there is no God'". Believing God doesn't save you. That revelation is not enough to save you. But as Charles Ryrie used to say, "It is enough if rejected to condemn you".
If you don't accept that natural revelation that's available to everybody, God has no obligation to send you any further revelation about Jesus, his son, and his death for you. That's natural revelation. Secondly, God reveals himself through Jesus Christ. Jesus is God's final revelation to man. In Hebrews 1:1-2, "God, after he spoke long ago to the fathers and the prophets, and in many portions and ways, in these last days he has spoken to us in his son, whom he appointed heir of all things". In the Old Testament, God revealed himself through a burning bush, through a stone tablet, through visions, through dreams. But God's final revelation and complete revelation is in Jesus Christ. Everything you need to know about God is found in Jesus Christ.
Jesus said himself in John 14:9, "He who has seen me has seen the father". When people say Jesus never claimed to be God, there's an example of yes, he claimed to be God. "He who has seen me has seen the father". God reveals himself through Jesus Christ. Thirdly, God reveals himself through his word, the Bible. Jesus is the living Word of God. John 1, "In the beginning was the word, and the word was with God, and the word was God". That was Jesus, the living word, the living expression of God. The Bible is the written Word of God. And there is no dichotomy between the living word, Jesus, and the written word, the Bible. Fourthly, God reveals himself to us through his Holy Spirit.
Now, we'll talk about that more in a couple of weeks when we look at "What every Christian should know about the Holy Spirit". But the Holy Spirit reveals God personally to us. For example, if we are pleasing God with what we do, and we're obeying him, the spirit affirms that in our heart. Romans 8:16, "For the spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God". If we need guidance, it's the Holy Spirit of God that guides us. Romans 8:14, "For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are the children of God". If you don't have the Holy Spirit, then you're not a child of God, because every true child of God has the spirit who leads him. The Holy Spirit acts as a conscience, he is our conscience. He's a conscience not only for Christians, but for non-Christians.
In John 16:8 Jesus said, "And when he," the Holy Spirit, "Comes, he will convict the world concerning sin, righteousness, and judgment to God". Now, what does God reveal to us about himself? We saw the how God reveals himself, through nature, through Jesus, through the Bible, through the Holy Spirit. What is it that God wants us to know about himself? Well, first of all, God reveals his attributes. Traits is not a good word, or characteristics, because, well, they're not always true of a person. For example, you're intelligent about some things, and probably ignorant of other things, just like I am. We're semi-intelligent, depending on the subject. We can say, "Well, we're loving". Well, not all the time, sometimes we're unloving, sometimes we're vengeful.
And so a better way to describe God's attributes are his perfections. We call them God's perfections. These are things that are always true of God, 100% of the time. I've listed 10 of them for you, don't panic, I'm only going to say a sentence about each one of them, but write them down. Number one, God is holy, he is holy. "Holy, holy, holy," was Isaiah's vision of God. That means this is important when something's repeated three times. What does it mean that God is holy? That word means he's separate. It's a cut above everyone and everything in his creation, and because of that, his holiness, he cannot have fellowship with anyone, and that's all of us, tainted by sin.
God is holy. Secondly, God is just, his just nature demands punishment for sin. Thirdly, God is loving. It's not a superficial emotion. God has a profound love for us that manifests itself in instruction, correction, and discipline. Fourth, God is eternal, he's not bound by time, and that's why we can trust his promise, "And lo, I am with you always". Or Hebrews 13:5, "I will never leave you, nor will I ever forsake you". Fifth, God is omnipotent, omni, all, potent, powerful. He is all powerful. He can suspend the laws of nature to accomplish his purpose. That's what we mean, he is omnipotent. He can do whatever is in his nature. Sixth, God is omniscient, he's all knowing, which should be a comfort to you. He knows the future, he knows your future. You know how he knows your future? Because he has planned the future. That's how God knows, he is omniscient. Seventh, God is imminent. That means God is always with his creation. He's a hands-on manager.
Now, this is in contrast, to say, deism. You know, two of our nation's founding fathers were deists, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin. Most of them were orthodox Christians, but these two were deists. The deists believed that God created the world, and then he left it alone to run down, like an alarm clock. You wind it up, and the clock runs down if no energy is injected to it. No, the Bible says, "God is ever present, and working in his creation". Eighth, God is transcendent. That mean even though he is in his creation, he is distinct from his creation. Ninth, God is sovereign. You know what sovereign means? It means boss, he's the boss. What God wants done gets done. Job 42:2, "I know that you are God, and that you can do all things," job said. "No man can thwart your purpose".
And then finally, God is unchanging. "He is the same yesterday, today, and forever," Hebrews 13:8. Those are the things that God reveals about himself, his attributes. Secondly, God reveals his names. Some of the most frequently used names of God, Elohim, which is the first name for God. It's a general term, "In the beginning, God created the heavens in the earth". Yahweh is the most holy name for God. The Israelites wouldn't even speak the word, it was so holy. It's the name God used to reveal himself to Moses in the burning bush. Exodus 3, "I am who I am". And thirdly, God reveals his plan to us. Now, sometimes we refer to God's plan as God's will. And to understand this, you need to understand that when we talk about God's plan, there are three aspects to God's plan.
First of all, there's what we call God's providential plan or will. This is God's plan, master plan, that governs everything that happens in the universe. It's what's referred to in Ephesians 1:11, "Also, we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to God's purpose, who works all things after the council of his will". And will you notice that word will is singular? God does not have multiple plans, God has one plan. It is the providential plan, and most of it is a mystery to us. Deuteronomy 29:29 says, "The secret things belong to the Lord". Occasionally he reveals a part of the plan to us. Ephesians 1, 1 Peter 1, "The mystery of redemption that he ordained Christ to die for our sins," that was a part of his plan. Or, "The mystery of the church," Ephesians 3. But his providential plan is secret.
Now, the second aspect to his plan is his preceptive plan. He reveals to us his precepts, his desires for our life. For example, 1 Thessalonians 4, "For this is the will of God," Paul said. "You want to know what God's will is for your life? Here it is, your sanctification, that you abstained from sexual immorality". That's something everybody can know. I've listed some other precepts in scripture that tell us what God's plan for our life. Have no other Gods before me, honor your father and your mother. Good thing to remember on father's day. Pick up the check for lunch for your dad. No, that's another story. You shall love your neighbor as yourself, love your enemies, these are all of God's preceptive plans.
And then thirdly, God's personal plan. That's his blueprint for your life. Does God have a blueprint for your life? Absolutely. Psalm 139 says, "In your book they were all written, the days of my life which were ordained for me before there was one of them". Every day of your life, everything on your calendar has been ordained by God. He has a plan for your life, and a true Christian will seek to know that plan. Ephesians 5:15-17. Now, we've talked about how God reveals himself, and what God reveals to us about himself. Thirdly, what should our response to God's revelation be? Let me mention three responses.
First of all, we should respond to his invitation. We should RSVP to his invitation. Think about it, think to the lengths which God has gone to tell you about himself through nature, through his word, through sending his son, through giving us his Holy Spirit. We need to respond to that invitation. We respond to God's invitation, first of all, by trusting in Christ. And then searching the scriptures, that's how we get to know God, praying. Hebrews 4:16, "Approaching God's throne with confidence". These are all ways we respond to God's initial invitation to know us. Secondly, we should tap into God's resources. We're going to talk about this more in a couple of weeks, but 2 Peter 2:3, 2 Peter 1:3 says that, "God has given us his divine power, and everything we need pertaining to life and Godliness".
The Holy Spirit is our resource, but even in the attributes of God, we find tremendous resources we should tap into as a result of God's revelation. And then finally, we should submit to God's authority over our lives. The fact that God is all powerful, and is sovereign should motivate us to say, "Yes, Lord". You know one of the things that just bugs me to no end is when I hear people say, "Well, you need to make Jesus Lord of your life". No, we don't make Jesus Lord of anything, he is Lord of everything. God is sovereign already, God is in control already. The question is, are we going to submit to his rule or resist his rule?
Psalm 100:3 says, "Know that the Lord himself is God. It is he who made us and not we ourselves, for we are his people, and we are the sheep of his pasture". The Bible says, "God whispers to every one of us who has been deformed by sin, I wish you were my son, I wish you were my daughter". And to those of us who come into the family of God through faith in Christ, when we approach God in prayer, when we talk to our daddy, our Abba, our papa, he says to us, "I'm glad you're my son. I'm glad you're my daughter". God's presence can be as big and bold and dramatic as the most powerful force in the world, but it can also be as personal as a whisper. And the interesting thing is, the closer you and I draw to God, the louder his whisper becomes.